Sunday’s finals saw a trio of firsts with Caroline Garcia and Camila Giorgi both winning their first titles of 2018 and Dayana Yastremska winning her first WTA title period. The season is drawing to a close and we have just one (!) week left of regulation tournaments. Read on for five stories in Sunday’s Set Points post with action from Hong Kong, Linz and Tianjin.
Garcia’s first title of 2018
Caroline Garcia scored her first top ten win since Rome and her first title since Beijing last year with a 7-6(7) 6-3 victory over Karolina Pliskova in Sunday’s Tianjin final. Garcia recovered from a 1-5 deficit in the first set tiebreak and was ultimately braver when it counted. Garcia encountered some late resistance in the second but served it out at the second time of asking, closing it out with an ace.
After such a fantastic end to 2017, Garcia’s 2018 season has been a tad disappointing. Expectations were raised sky-high as she completely overwhelmed the field to qualify for Singapore last year. I think her level has actually been pretty decent through much of the year. She has struggled to build momentum at tournaments, often throwing in a duff performance towards the end. Garcia is still top 20 in the race so it’s not been a complete disaster.
Pliskova is still in the ascendancy for Singapore and needs to reach the semi-finals in Moscow next week to confirm her place. I like listening to Pliskova in press because she is so refreshingly honest, but I don’t enjoy watching her play and just cannot get excited about her game. I’m rooting for Bertens to get into the last eight as I feel her year has been much more impressive.
Yastremska’s first WTA title
Dayana Yastremska hit 33 winners (!) in a sensational display of ball striking to overwhelm a weary-looking, Wang Qiang. Yastremska won, 6-2 6-1 to win her first WTA title in Hong Kong. For a first final, this was mightily impressive from Yastremska who was absolutely fearless in going for the lines. The Ukrainian player said to her coach at 4-1 that she was tight and understandably, there were plenty of nerves as she tried to serve out the match.
Yastremska wears her heart on her sleeve and you could see she was *trying* to stay calm! There were some double faults, tight-looking errors and rushing between points, but she still came up with some stunning winners and managed to serve out the match on her fourth Championship point.
Yastremska was buzzing at the end and it was nice to see her joy in the moment. Again, I repeat from yesterday’s post, she’s going to be an absolute ball to watch over the coming years. A shame for Wang Qiang who did look flat after yesterday’s gruelling win over Muguruza. This takes nothing away from her Asian Swing run which has propelled her close to automatically qualifying for Zhuhai. I would guess she gets a wild card anyway?
Another stunning rally from Hong Kong
Wow this was good!
Giorgi wins Linz
Camila Giorgi eased to the Linz title with a routine 6-3 6-1 victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova. I can’t quite believe this was only Giorgi’s second WTA title?! It seems fitting towards the end of what has been a great year for the Italian player. I’ve definitely noted a change in Giorgi this season. She was always unrelenting and somewhat stubborn in her ultra-aggressive approach. She seems to be going for less on the second serve, committing less double faults in the process, and also being a bit more patient in rallies, while still keeping the essence of her game which is based on playing fast and aggressive.
It was actually quite nice to see some emotion from Giorgi at the end who has always given very little away. Giorgi has cracked the world’s top 30 this year for the first time in her career and tallied 38 wins, the most she has ever managed in one season (via Tennis Abstract).
This week’s bake…
For week 7 of GBBO 2018, I baked a “free from” lemon cake using soya milk, dairy free spread and no eggs in sight!